The US Navy (USN) and US Marine Corps (USMC) mismanaged their backup aircraft and depot maintenance float allowance (DMFA), affecting the readiness of a portion of its fighter and helicopter fleets, according to the Department of Defense Inspector General (DoD IG).
The IG, in its semiannual report to Congress for the first half of fiscal year 2019 (FY 2019) released on 31 May, said it reviewed the backup aircraft for the Boeing F/A-18 Hornet fighter, the Boeing T-45 Goshawk jet trainer, and Sikorsky MH-60R personnel recovery helicopters. The USN and USMC provide operational units with replacement aircraft or vehicles, known as backup aircraft and DMFA, to maintain readiness levels when a unit’s aircraft or vehicles undergo depot maintenance, modification, or repair.
The IG said the USN had more MH-60R and Sikorsky MH-60S Knighthawk helicopters than it required to maintain readiness. As a result, the USN spent USD1.4 billion to procure 34 MH-60R and 23 MH-60S helicopters that ended up in storage and will spend more than USD2 million annually to store these aircraft until at least 2020.
The IG also determined that the USN and USMC did not have a sufficient quantity of operational F/A-18 and T-45 aircraft available to replace all the aircraft requiring depot maintenance. This insufficient quantity of available backup aircraft occurred because the squadrons and training wings used the backup inventory to transition squadrons to newer models and replace training aircraft that were damaged to the extent that repair was not economical or practical. The USN and USMC also extended the service life of the F/A-18 and T-45 aircraft.
“If aircraft shortages continue, the Navy and Marine Corps could experience a shortfall of trained pilots, potentially impacting mission readiness,” the DoD IG said.
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